Sunday, September 7, 2008

Who should I start?

Well it's the eve of the NFL regular season. Fantasy draft day is over and your months of research and preparation have netted you an All-Star fantasy football squad primed and ready to deliver a championship. The question is, who do you start? To find out, you've been pouring over the injury reports, listening to sport center, and mulling over the tradeoffs of placing certain players in your lineup over others. This is where the men are separated from the boys. If you can consistently predict what your players will do each week, start 'em when they're hot and sit'em when they're cold, you are well on your way to that elusive championship. Try the tips I've listed below to help you set your lineup each week.

Injury Reports
Keep in mind that the NFL, just like fantasy football, is a game of misinformation. NFL coaches love to keep their opponents on edge and will mask and misinform player injuries as long a humanly possible. Why do you thing Tom Brady was listed on the injury report through the entire preseason with food poisoning? The best you can hope to do is check the injury report on Friday, when teams are expected to post their most up to date report by the league. If a player's not listed on the injury report, that means he is expected to play on Sunday. Probable indicates a nagging injury that shouldn't affect the players availability on gameday (75%), these guys are safe to start. Questionable means the player is generally 50/50 and will probably wait until gameday to try ot waarm up and give it a go (50%). Out means that your player will not be available. Check out my injury report every Friday for the latest. All questionable and out situations should be moitored throughout the course of the weekend. What's most important is to watch the NFL pregame shows for the latest information as the players warm up. They will give you your most difinitive information just prior to kickoff, which will make you decision clear.

Play the Matchups
Fantasy football success is all about matchups. A stud running back going up against a weak run defense should net you some extra points on Sunday. It's the same thing with quarterbacks and wide receivers, if you can exploit a weak defensive NFL matchup, these guys can make winning on Sunday that much easier on you. Paying attention to weak offenses matched up against a solid defense can also net you some extra points from your fantasy D. Each week, obtain a list that ranks NFL defenses against the run and against the pass. Use this list to help determine which players should start for your team and which players need to be benched. The rule of thumb is to always go with your studs at each position, but in some cases if the matchups favor a bench player, it might be wise to switch it up.

Expert Advice
When in doubt, listen to the experts. There are all types of fantasy football start 'em and sit'em resources. Maintain a wathcful eye on what the experts are saying to help make the decision process a little less stressful.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Fantasy Football News and Notes

Based on a lot of player movement over the last week, I decided it might be beneficial to address some of the situations in NFL camps around the league. So here are some news and notes to help prepare you for your upcoming fantasy football draft in no particular order.

  • Kurt Warner has been officially named the starter in Arizona. Cautiously upgrade Warner on your draft boards. The 37 year old quarterback still has the tools to be dangerous as long as the Arizona Cardinals offensive line can buy him enough time to throw the ball. If you draft Kurt Warner, bear in mind that over the last several seasons has yet to stay healthy for a full 16 games. It would be wise to handcuff Matt Leinart for Warner owners, should the injury bug continue to take another bite outta Kurt.

  • Rudi Johnson was cut in Cincinnati, paving the way for Chris Perry to assume the starting RB position in Cincinnati. It's certainly no secret that Marvin Lewis, who drafted Perry, has always liked his potential. With Chris healthy this season, the Bengals have decided to move forward with him as their starter.

  • Rudi Johnson was acquired by the Detroit Lions last night and Tatum Bell was released. Rudi is currently backing up the 2008 3rd round Matt Millen pick at running back, rookie Kevin Smith. If history is any indication, Millen can't seem to select NFL calibre players to save his life. How he continues to save his job every year is beyond me. Rudi Johnson is worth taking a flyer on in the later rounds. I'm definitely not sold on letting an entire franchise's running game hinge on a running back selected in the 3rd round and I don't think Matt Millen is either. Rudi will get a chance to shine and I would not be surprised if he takes over the starting role at some point this season.

  • Bryant "Mount" McKinnie was suspended for four games by the NFL for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy. Adrian Peterson's value may take a slight hit without this stud tackle who teams with Steve Hutchinson to form what is arguably the best left side in all of football. Personally I would still draft Peterson with the first or second pick of the draft. He'll make it happen.

  • A popular late round sleeper pick for deep drafts is DeSean Jackson, the rookie wide out from Philadelphia. He can be had in the waning rounds of most drafts and appears to be developing a nice rapport with Donovan McNabb.

  • Ronnie Brown makes a nice late round pick at the running back position. Yes, Ricky Williams has impressed the Dolphins brass enough to warrant a one year contract extension, but before his injury Ronnie Brown was a fantasy football stud. This year may be a wash since he's recovering from a knee injury, but he could come on strong at the end of year just in time for the playoffs as the lowly Miami Dolphins look to climb out of the AFC basement and build momentum for next season.

  • Courtney Taylor of Seattle should be nice stop-gap receiver early in the season. With the Seattle Receiving corps decimated (they're looking at Seneca Wallace to play wideout), Taylor will benefit from some early Matt Hasselbeck looks and he can be had late in the draft to fill in for your Brandon Marshall (1 game) or Steve Smith (2 Games) suspensions.